Many experts claim that personality is made up of two things: temperament and character. While character develops from environmental influences, temperament, which is biological in nature, accompanies us from the start of life and serves as the basis for personality traits that will consolidate over time.
In this article we will describe the three main types of temperament in babies: the easy, the difficult and the slow. Although a large number of children cannot be clearly categorized into any of them, these categories can be very useful in conceptualizing basic temperament differences in the early stages of life.
What is temperament?
Temperament is the biological component of the personality. It is mainly determined by genetic inheritance, which makes it quite stable, although environmental factors can influence the manifestations of temperament, both in early development and throughout life.
Different aspects of biology and physiology determine the temperament of each individual. The role of neurotransmitters in the nervous system and hormones in the endocrine system, as well as the level of brain activation and responsiveness to stimulation, are particularly relevant.
It is believed that the temperament of babies it develops as they feel emotions, Presentation patterns shape a certain psychophysiological disposition. The attitude of the parents and their reactions to the needs of the little one have a relevant weight in the configuration of the temperament.
Types of temperament in babies
In the 1950s, Alexander Thoma and Stella Chess began research on behavioral and personality development that would last more than 30 years, the New York Longitudinal Study. From this study, three types of temperament were described in infants: easy, difficult, and slow (or “hard to get”) children.
Let’s see what are the characteristics of each of these types. It is important to note that 35% of the children analyzed could not be strictly classified in any of them, but presented characteristics of several types.
1. Easy children
“Easy” children are those who present moderate intensity moods and with a tendency to good humor. Their biological rhythms are stable, so it is easy for them to adopt regular schedules and eating habits. They are also more accepting of frustrating experiences than children with other temperaments.
In addition, mild-tempered children show an open disposition to new experiences and situations: they smile more at strangers, tolerate new foods satisfactorily, and adapt well to changes in routine.
According to the New York Longitudinal Study, 40% of babies can be classified under the easy temperament category. This makes it the most common early capricious style of the three.
2. Difficult children
Thoma and Chess assessed children with irregular biological rhythms, high intensity emotional responses and “difficult” tendency to feel and manifest negative emotions, For example in the form of irritability or crying; however, they also tend to show more positive emotions in a more marked way.
These babies have more difficulty than those with easy temperaments maintaining regular sleeping and feeding schedules and patterns. They have a harder time adjusting to both food and new situations and routines, and rely less on people they don’t know.
Children with difficult temperaments react less to new stimuli and changes. as well they tend to respond with tears and rages to frustration of their desires and impulses.
Only about 10% of babies can be classified as difficult temperaments; therefore, this type of temperament is less common than the easy temperament and the slow reacting one.
3. Slow-reacting children
The authors of the New York Longitudinal Study also called members of this group “hard-to-arouse children.” These made up 15% of the total sample, so slow temper is slightly more common than difficult, although it is still much less common than easy.
Synthetically, we can say that slow-reacting babies show many characteristics of easy temperamentWhile they are more indifferent than these and take longer to adapt to changes, as the names given to this temperament suggest.
Slow reacting babies show less intense emotions than easy babies, whether negative or positive. They tend to be more reluctant about new people, situations, and foods than easy kids, although they adapt well gradually, especially if they’re not under pressure.
The biological rhythms of slow children are less regular than the easier ones, making it more difficult for them to develop new patterns and habits, but less so than for babies with difficult temperaments.